Athens: The Hidden Gems by Helen Partovi-Fraser

By Helen Partovi-Fraser

A go back and forth memoir that takes you immediately to the center of Athens. during this new booklet, the writer returns to the post-Olympics capital and unveils the fabled urban because it quite is. Taking the reader backstage, she muses on Athens' turbulent historical past and legends of the earlier. We discover: - the traditional urban - Byzantine Athens and its glittering gemstones - neighborhood traditions and the outdated Turkish region - road markets and stay Zorba's dance - the trendy boulevards excited about a urban, created 2500 years in the past to final for eternity, the writer captures the soul of Athens and its charismatic humans. With a seductive mixture of Antiquity and the East, nonetheless found in smooth, daily life, the publication inspires a reworked capital, throbbing with surroundings.

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Membership of the EU in 1981 and the 2004 Athens Olympics were accompanied by investment in a new airport and modernisation of the public transport network. With globalization and rapid industrialisation, international hotel chains mushroomed. The adoption in 2001 of the euro and the 2009 opening of the new Acropolis Museum finally bolstered Greece’s international profile. Over time, old Athenian neighbourhoods have given way to modern apartment blocks, and the once clearly defined roles of men and women have been weakened by women’s liberation.

Warmed and bathed in sunlight, they stand rigidly, reminiscent of Egyptian statuary. Commissioned by noble Athenian families and offered as dedications to Apollo and other gods, the kouroi were also used as grave markers and commemorative statues for winners in the ancient games. Buried by the Athenians after the 480 BC sack of the Acropolis, they were discovered by archaeologists in the nineteenth century amongst debris. The kouroi and korai, representing the great awakening of Greek sculpture in the seventh century BC, are unique for their grace and naturalness, and the characteristic ‘archaic smile’.

Incorporated in the seventeenth century into a French monastery which was later burnt down, the monument was at the time used as a reading room by the monks. The Romantic writer and Philhellene, Lord Byron, lodged here in 1810 before going on to help in the Greek War of Independence, which lead to the birth of the modern Greek nation. Amidst the shouting of street salesmen and constant revving of motor cycles, we make our way across the square. Near a busy periptero sits the church of St Catherine (Ayia Aikaterini) who, spurning the advances and offer of marriage by Emperor Maximinus, was tortured and martyred.

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